HYPERINFLATION

An ongoing art and research project on Yugoslav hyperinflation of 1993/94, focusing on the design of the banknotes' geometric lathes and their evolution. How can we render and make visible the silently encoded cultural footprint left within the banknotes' design? The decline of Ancient Roman culture became widely accessible by tracking and studying the quality of their coins' design and manufacturing, over a period of time. Unintentionally, those coins became a "hard disk", storing cultural (meta)data on a small piece of time-resistant metal, waiting for upcoming civilizations to read and analyze it. The designs of banknotes and coins are never random - they encrypt a cultural state of mind, its psychology, and economy, combined into a singular semiotics of (sometimes quickly depreciating) value.
As an introduction to this project, here is a video-essay on the theme of this research. By traversing banknote design, science and personal memories, we enter an irrational journey of one of the worst hyperinflation in human history. The work in progress also gathers drawings based on geometric lathes of the Yugoslav dinar of 1992/93/94, while their logic, patterns and form are deconstructed, showing their disintegrating value and physical "falling apart".

[Drawings - download PDF]
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An offset projection of the 500 000 000 000 Dinar banknote, first published on December 23, 1993. The banknote represents the very peak of the hyperinflation and lasted for only seven days. Before that, by December 11th the exchange rate was 1 DM = 800 million and on December 15th it was 1 DM = 3.7 billion new dinars. The average daily rate of inflation was nearly 100 percent. On December 29 the exchange rate was 1 DM = 950 billion new dinars. At the end of December the exchange rate was 1 DM = 3 trillion dinars and on January 4, 1994 it was 1 DM = 6 trillion dinars. On January 6th the government declared that the German Mark was an official currency of Yugoslavia.

Source: James Lyon, "Yugoslavia's Hyperinflation, 1993-1994: A Social History," East European Politics and Societies vol. 10, no. 2 (Spring 1996)